Category Archives: Depression and Anxiety

Pennies and Promises

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Years ago, when my husband and I first started dating, he enabled me with one of the most encouraging tips that has given me renewed strength so many times. He told me that any time I find a penny on the ground, it’s God giving me a hug and reminding me that He’s still with me. Ever since then, I have been amazed at the times I’ve found a penny on the ground. There have been so many instances when I’ve just been having a horrible day, and I’ll look down to find a penny right at my feet. I wish I had counted how many pennies I found while Evan was deployed.

Evan has crazy stories of places he’s found pennies. Believe it or not, he found multiple pennies in the deserts of Afghanistan while on patrol. He told me of one time he was in the field for several days. He was feeling overly discouraged and just wanted so badly to be home with us. He was in the middle of talking with God when he looked down. There, out in the middle of the woods, right next to his boot, sat a couple of pennies. He couldn’t help but smile and thank the Lord. That small encouragement helped get him through the rest of the week.

So, the next time you find a penny on the ground, don’t look at it as JUST a penny. Pick it up and embrace the big hug God is giving you right at that moment.

Oh the Nightmares

I had a horrendous nightmare last night. You know, one of those that wakes you up and makes it impossible to go back to sleep. It was one of those nightmares that snuggling up next to my completely zonked husband just didn’t seem to make it all better. So, I roamed the house for nearly an hour, trying to get my mind off the dream. When I finally crawled back into bed, my sweet husband woke up, grabbed my hand, and asked if everything was okay. I told him that I had a horrendous nightmare, and he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me to him. In that instant, I finally felt tired again. There’s so much more comfort in the sleepy embrace of my husband when he does it knowing that something was wrong. I felt safe again, and my mind quickly turned off, allowing me to fall back into a deep sleep.

All my life I have been plagued with nightmares. They never seem to escape me, and I almost always remember them. I still remember dreams I had when I was six years old. They don’t occur as much, but I have noticed that they usually pop up more often during pregnancy and whenever my husband is gone for training or deployment. I’ve often wondered what drives my unusual tendency toward nightmares. I actually wrote an essay about my nightmares in college, for a writing class. So, I figured I’d share that with you all.

Demons of the Night

I had a fear. I like to convince myself it doesn’t exist anymore, but it still plagues me once in a while. It used to paralyze me, both physically and mentally. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was collapse on a windowsill and cry.

I was a short, chunky kid who swam around in hand-me-downs much too big for me. At least, I felt like I was swimming. I always did. If I wasn’t drowning in large clothing, I was drowning in life. Everything seemed too big for me. I wasn’t a brave child by any means, although I acted like it. When people watched me, they thought, “Boy, that girl has gumption.” I appeared brave. I did all the brave things. I was the one to jump off flying swings. I flipped over the high monkey bars. I traversed through the dark rooms to find the light switch on the opposite end. Yet, I was the most afraid, but no one knew.

Anytime my fear arose, it grappled my gut, making me nauseous. My lungs constricted and breathing was arduous. I became light-headed. I felt fragile, but stiff. Inwardly, I couldn’t move. Despite what my body was doing, my mind screamed at me to stop, to run away, to pull myself out of the situation. My body never listened.

All this was due to nightmares. Anything would set them off: a scary movie, darkness, ghost stories, anything. I had a ritual each night. Standing at least three feet from my bed, I squatted down on my little legs, low enough to peek under the bed. When all appeared clear, I leaped toward the bed, wrestling with the covers till I was safely bound between blanket and mattress.

Although I was safe, I wouldn’t shut my eyes. I couldn’t shut my eyes. I couldn’t allow the freakish scenes to begin. I wouldn’t permit my mind to go off into a place beyond my control. I knew that once my weary eye-gates collapsed, my conscience snapped open to a frightful world. No one could rescue me from that place, no one. Not even myself. My nightmares were reality to me. When I physically awakened, my brain continued to press its subconscious replay button. Whatever occurred in my dreams, I was convinced would happen in real life.

I nervously glanced over my shoulder half-expecting a monster on my heels. I slouched in school, dreading the impending embarrassment. My bus rides home included imaginations of fatal car accidents involving family. These were my nightmares. They followed me everywhere like a fictitious leech. I couldn’t escape them. So, I decided if I had to live with my nightmares during the day, then I would keep them from grappling me in the night. In my mind it was a guarantee. If I had a nightmare during sleep, it affected my life the following day. I wouldn’t be permissive. I wouldn’t allow the opportunity to arise.

Apart from refusing to shut my eyes once in bed, I avoided my bedroom altogether. I knew if I was to climb into bed, I was one step closer to the pillow of slumber. If I was to even walk across the threshold of my bedroom, I was one step closer to my bed. I had this preconceived idea that sleeping with someone would ward off the demons of the night. Being the second youngest of five children, I did share a room with the baby (hardly the best companion when waking up in a cold sweat). It wasn’t the same. I needed protection.

Just knowing that I would have a nightmare, I stood in the doorway of my sisters’ bedroom and with tears printing wayward trails down my cheeks, I pleaded for permission to sleep with them. They barked at me to go away, saying, “You couldn’t possibly have had a nightmare yet. You didn’t even go to sleep to give it a chance to happen.” They didn’t understand. They just didn’t know. I feared sleep. That was just it. I couldn’t let myself sleep. Sleep was my enemy. In my mind, sleep dined with the night hag. Those nightmares affected my everyday life.

One time, as a seven year old, I heard my mom leave to go grocery shopping. With my nose pressed against the window, I tearfully watched the van drive off. I wanted to be with her. I had to be with her. A couple nights before, I had a bad dream of her being in a car accident. I sat at the window, bawling, completely sure that my nightmare was bound to be made true. To me, my mother wasn’t safe until she was home where I could see her.

As I became older, my monsters developed. Grisly monstrosities wereno longer chasing me. I was now a paralytic to failure, to being the object of ridicule, to losing friends. All my extant fears played out in the dark of sleep. They still do sometimes. I find myself avoiding confrontations. I won’t look at a grade on some paper for fear of failure. I divert from embarrassing possibilities. I fear the worst because I have dreamt the worst. Although I don’t recall dreams as often, the night demons still tackle me from time to time. In my world of delusion, I have had to force myself to remember the fine line between imaginary and reality.

My Desert Storm

I don’t mean any disrespect by my title. It’s just that it adequately explains how I’m feeling, and how fitting seeing that I am a military spouse. I’m typically a silver-lining type of girl; almost always have been. I sometimes drive my husband crazy because I ALWAYS have to find the positive in everything and everyone. There are people who always “have it worse,” which is why I do my best to stay upbeat. Also, God has blessed me so incredibly much. But, sometimes my positive drive runs dry. I guess this is one of those times.

Have you ever cried so much that you have no more tears to cry? You just feel absolutely and utterly dry. You still feel the pain, but nothing comes out. I looked at the month of March as an exciting new month, but it brought more challenges than I ever anticipated. I won’t go into some of them, because they are personal. I guess I just didn’t anticipate what God was going to allow our little family to go through. We got hit with illness after illness, which I can handle. But, what I really didn’t expect was that in one fell swoop, something that started out as positive became negative before the swing came to an end.

What I’m referring to is my recent miscarriage. No, I’m not talking about our baby Andrew’s death; I’m talking about another little angel. This month we found out that I was pregnant again. You can imagine how excited we were! We kind of considered this little baby as a miracle. He/she was the quiet in our storm. Our hearts had been aching so badly for another baby, and we felt like God had answered our prayerful desires. But, the excitement was short-lived. Less than a week later, I miscarried. I tried to reason that maybe I really hadn’t been pregnant and that my hormone levels had just been out of whack. But, the staff in the ER was efficient and showed me that I indeed had been pregnant and that it wasn’t just my hormone levels.

I didn’t cry. I tried to pretend I was okay. My husband and I went on the rest of our day as if it were a normal one. By the next night, I couldn’t pretend anymore. We couldn’t pretend anymore. We both fell into each other’s arms and cried. I just remember saying, “I don’t understand,” over and over again. Why would God do this again? Why would He allow us to know we were pregnant and then take it away just like that?

People try telling me, “Well, at least you weren’t as far along.” That doesn’t mean I didn’t love this baby just as much. Our little angel is in heaven right now, and he or she doesn’t have a name. You don’t know how much that pains me! I want this little one to have a name. What does bring me comfort is that God is watching over both our angels now. I imagine Andrew and our miracle baby have sat in Jesus’s lap as He told them how much their mommy and daddy love them.

I know that this happens to so many people and that I should be grateful that I can get pregnant. I am extremely grateful for that and for our little son that we do have. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not scared. I find myself wondering if we’ll be able to have more children. My husband and I so badly want another baby. I know that God knows what is best for us and everything happens in His time. Sometimes I’m just terrified as to what His will might be.

I used to be afraid to tell God what I think or how I’m really feeling. But, the more I’m learning in His word and through other reading, I’m finding that He wants to hear us no matter what we are feeling. He wants us to talk to Him, because He does care. In the book, “Heaven Is For Real,” Colton’s father talks about how he ranted and raved at God over the trials his family was experiencing, and through his son, finds out that God personally answered his ranting prayers. I guess I used to always assume that it wasn’t good to rant at God; that it was almost a sin. But, God wants to hear those rants. He recognizes that we hurt, and He doesn’t expect us to hide it and pretend. One night, days after my miscarriage, my husband and I had a disagreement. I went outside to cool off and found myself ranting . . . at God. I went on and on about how frustrated I was and that I didn’t understand what God was doing in our lives. I told him that I was feeling dry and tired, inside and out. Minutes later, random raindrops began to fall. It was as if God was telling me He heard me. He was bringing rain to my oh so dry desert. I then started crying, and tears eventually turned to peace. For the first time this month, an immense peace washed over me. I felt as though God was embracing me.

I’m not going to understand why things happen. I will go through dry periods. I will have desert storms. But, God is faithful. He will always bring the rain.

My Secret of the Past

This post is something I’ve been wanting to post for a long time. What was holding me back? Well, it’s personal. It’s a very personal topic, and it’s something that a lot of people don’t know about me. I used to be terrified to talk about it. What if people thought differently of me? But, you know what, that doesn’t matter to me anymore. God has done great and amazing things in my life, and it’s not right for me to hold it in when my testimony could be an encouragement to so many people! For the past two years, God has been prodding my heart about sharing this testimony. But, I’ve been afraid. The only time I really made this “public” was when I was asked to write about it as a guest post on another blog. I did that though, because I felt it was safe. Anybody reading that wouldn’t know it was me. Only my first name was mentioned, and there’s plenty of Lydias in the world. I knew that even if someone knew me read it, they wouldn’t necessarily think it was me. Well, I’m done playing it safe. This testimony really has nothing to do with me and has everything to do with God. I apologize to my family and friends who are finding out about this through my blog. Please don’t let that fact make you lose sight the big picture . . . God’s awesome and wonderful grace!
If you knew me in college, you would see a happy girl. I was always laughing or smiling about something. People would ask me what I was smiling about, and I’d say, “Oh, I’m just glad to be alive!” or something like that. I tried to be encouraging and look out for others. I had a lot of friends, and to everyone else, appeared to be completely stable in my life. Yet, I had this one friend that followed me everywhere . . . to class, to play practice, to bed, and especially to meals. This friend was my biggest companion but also my darkest secret. I was a bulimic.
Ever since I can remember, I was always overweight. Even before I can remember, I was a chunker. Born into this world at 10 lbs 7 oz (sorry if I’m off, mom), I was destined to be a large girl. I look at pictures of myself growing up, and I wonder how in the world I ever had any friends. I wasn’t enormous, but in a small class of forty students (I went to a Christian school.), my overweight body definitely stood out against the average-sized and skinnier people. By the time middle school hit, I became overly conscious of my weight. I looked around and saw my friends having “I like you. Do you like me too?” flings with boys. Oh how I wanted a boy to like me, but I had a strong feeling that my size was getting in the way. I became obsessed with my weight and internally struggled with what to do.
Eighth grade rolled around, and I became even more aware of my body, boys, and everything else teenage years bring. I wanted so badly to be noticed. I wanted so badly to be accepted by the popular crowd. Most of all, I just wanted to feel good about myself. I was sick of being overweight, sick of how I felt. I was miserable and determined to do something about it. The first thing that came to mind was anorexia. I tried it for a day, and that was it. I liked food way too much.
Then, one Wednesday night, I went out for Chinese with some friends. The food didn’t settle well, and I found myself in the bathroom, with my head over the toilet bowl. After losing my entire meal, I felt immensely better and a wave of release washed over me. Then it occurred to me that this was how I could do it; this was how I could still eat and lose the weight. I hadn’t even considered bulimia, because I thought it would just be way too hard. But, after that moment, everything in my brain flipped. I wanted to feel that release again. I wanted to feel good.
It wasn’t long before I was sneaking off to the bathroom after meals, excusing myself from class to deter suspicions, and religiously carrying around a toothbrush and packs of laxatives with me everywhere. I couldn’t tell you when my darkest secret transformed from a weightloss idea to a control factor in my life. Yes, I was still paranoid about my weight, but the reality is that it didn’t really do anything to help me lose weight. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that bulimia actually doesn’t make you lose weight; it tends to make you gain and brings with it so many other health issues. A couple years flew by, and I felt like my life was flying with it. I began having nightmares and flashbacks of a time when I was sexually abused by a man in the church. I was only in kindergarten. I grew bitter at God, asking him questions as to why he would let such a thing happen. Things just seemed to escalate from there. My siblings and I were constantly fighting. No guys showed interest in me. I felt worthless. My dreams of being married and having kids someday seemed bleak. I may have only been a teenager, but the world appears so small to a teenager. At that age, you tend to look from the inside out, not the outside in. Future to you is just you and the people you see around you. Your mind doesn’t think of the possibilities beyond that. So, I withdrew into myself and became best friends with my darkest secret, because that seemed to be the only thing I could control.
I suddenly found myself getting rid of anything I put in my mouth, even water. I was obsessed. The constant throwing up plagued me with headaches, exhaustion, and the inability to concentrate. If I was exceptionally upset about something, I’d sneak to the kitchen in the middle of the night and eat away my sorrows. I always amazed myself with how much I could binge on in one sitting. When I couldn’t shove anything else into my mouth, I’d drag myself to the bathroom and let it all go. My darkest secret almost became a religion. I never skipped a day. I never skipped a meal. It was there beside me the whole time.
As I packed for my Freshman year of college, I packed my entire life: my clothes, my hair stuff, my school supplies, and in the corner . . . my darkest secret. How in the world was I going to hide my secret in a dorm full of girls, where the bathrooms were community—a bunch of stalls in one room? But, I figured out a way. I always seemed to figure out a way. Halfway through the first semester, I made a desperate attempt to stop my bulimia. But, it had already become an addiction. Instead of getting rid of all my meals, I just got rid of whatever I felt was unhealthy. I became calorie conscious and only let myself eat a certain number of calories each day. Anything beyond that ended up in the toilet bowl.
Did I enjoy my darkest secret? Absolutely not! There were so many days when I’d stand at the bathroom stall door in tears, just wanting it to stop. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I hated how it made me feel. I hated how I was so dependent on it. Dependent for what? I wanted self-esteem. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to feel good, and I got none of that. I hated myself. So, I tried to channel my addiction elsewhere. I started drinking coffee by the pots. It did help deter my purging, but only a little bit. Through being busy with school and life, things got a little better. My bulimic tendencies came less often, but I was still plagued with caloric numbers and meal sizes.
The summer after my senior year of college, I met the amazing man who is now my husband. Upon meeting, he showed genuine interest in me, and that interest quickly turned to love. He helped me see that I really was a beautiful person and that all the pain I was inflicting on myself was not necessary. Months later, we married, but my addiction followed closely behind. Six weeks into our marriage, while my husband was at work, I had a heavy battle with my bulimia and I lost. I found myself lying on the floor afterward, sobbing. I was so tired. I didn’t know what to do other than to pray. I had prayed about this issue so many times before, but this time, I really did want to let it all go. I begged the Lord to “please take this away from me! I don’t care how You do it, Lord. Please, oh please help me overcome this. I can’t do it on my own. I’m so tired of it. I don’t want it anymore. Please do something . . . anything!”
Days later, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. The responsibility of a baby weighed heavy on my heart. Suddenly, that same switch that flipped back in eighth grade flipped again. I couldn’t carry my darkest secret anymore. I couldn’t do that to our baby. If I harmed my body, I’d harm our baby. There just wasn’t room for my darkest secret and our baby. I resolved that I had to beat this battle with bulimia for our baby. God helped me realize that this was beyond myself. It wasn’t about me. It was about God and this baby that He entrusted me to be a mommy for. Overcoming this battle certainly wasn’t easy, but God is gracious and loving and provided all the strength I needed. Nine months later, I gave birth to a beautiful, strong, healthy baby boy.
I look back, and I see that God answered my prayer. In a world of hurt, He reached down and lifted me up. I begged for Him to do something, and He did. (A baby wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I prayed, but I did tell Him “anything.”) He gave us a baby, because He knew that my heart was bigger than my hurt. My heart would care more for that baby than for what I supposed to be an overweight body. Our son is now over a year old, and I am at the healthiest weight I have ever been in my entire life (without any help from bulimia). Yes, the temptation will always still be there, as is for any addiction, but I’m freed from its shackles. I am free! To God be the glory! I owe my freedom to an all-too gracious God, a loving husband, and the precious miracle of a baby boy.
I so badly want to be able to speak to teenagers about this. I really feel like God is leading me to do that, but I’m still in the waiting game for that opportunity. I don’t want them to struggle with this or struggle for as long as I did. There are so many people who struggle with eating disorders. If that’s you right now, please know that God is greater than that battle and He really can free you from it! I know what you’re going through. I know how you feel. I battled for eleven long, painful years. Please don’t let it take that long before you give it over to God! You ARE beautiful!
Old photo of my brother and me, during Christmas break of my
Freshman year of college and still struggling with bulimia.
With the man who ALWAYS makes me feel beautiful
and the precious baby boy who changed everything!
Bulimia-free for over two years (and I was even 10 weeks pregnant with Andrew in this photo)!

Finding Glory in the Loneliness

I lay here in an empty bed, with nothing but blankets and tear-stained pillows as my companions. If it were up to me, my husband would be lying next to me, and I’d be embraced by his strong, loving arms. But, it isn’t up to me, for my husband has a greater purpose — fighting the demons of the world, that plague a squelched nation seeking refuge. Though I know the cause is just, it doesn’t subdue the pain of the loneliness that haunts me each day. Some days are easier to bear than others, but how does a person adequately function when the best part of herself is gone? God is constantly having to remind me that there is glory in everything. When I was in high school, I watched girls around me go on dates with guys, but I was never one of the lucky ones. In college, I encountered failed relationships. I felt so alone. Many tearful nights went by, because I thought God had forgotten me. I thought that perhaps I was going to spend the rest of my life alone . . . and then HE came. Just when I had given up hope, God brought Evan into my life. I could have never chosen a better man for myself. God showed me that those long, sleepless nights were worth every tear. Every lonely night was worth the pain of waiting and wanting. God helped me realize that I indeed was special, too special to be with the mediocre man of my imagination. He allowed me to be alone for a time so that I could forever be together with the man He molded for me. Oh, the glory in my loneliness!

Here I am again, feeling overwhelming loneliness. Yet, this pain is far greater, for I’m without the man I waited so long for. I go each day longing for the warmth of his hand in mine, for the touch of his loving embrace. It’s amazing how such a time apart makes you appreciate every little thing. I miss the mischievous way he laughs when he’s being silly. I miss waking up before the sun to pack his lunch. I miss him coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist while I cook dinner. I miss praying together as we cuddle in bed, before going to sleep.
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